Skyrim: A Shout To Game Developers


What’s the deal with Bethesda’s latest adventure, Skyrim? Well, aside from the fact that it is awesomely addictive, Skyrim is suffering from a PlayStation 3 “only” unresolved lag issue that is compromising the experience for many PS3 owners. Although I haven’t started playing Skyrim, I am a bit afraid that by the time I will hit the 60 Hours mark, I will reach the pinnacle of my adventure.

Apparently, there have been many speculations regarding the origin of the problem and the correct methods to resolve it. Patch 1.2 was released by Bethesda to resolve some issues, including the lag problem, however, the problem still persists. According to many users, not only did Patch 1.2 not fix the issue, but also made things worse, as they are now experiencing more issues, including the infamous flying backward dragon glitch.

Dragon Flying Backward after patch 1.2

That pushed Bethesda to release a statement apologizing for many fans and promising a more accurate research before releasing a future patch.

[spoiler intro="Press Here for full statement given by Bethesda"]After the holidays, we’ll continue to release regular updates for the game – through full title updates, as well as incremental ‘gameplay updates’ to fix whatever issues come up along with rebalancing portions of the game for difficulty or exploits. We plan on having a lot of these, not just a few. Overall, you should expect updates to be hitting the PC and Steam earlier and more often, as that’s a process we control. Console updates will follow, as they must be certified and processed by those manufacturers.
We all know this is a huge game, and everyone has a different experience. We’ll continue to do everything we can to make the game better and better for as many people as possible every day. We’ve also realized that with the millions upon millions of people playing Skyrim, we need to treat our updates with greater care. If we get too aggressive trying to fix a minor issue, we run a risk of breaking something larger in a game like this. To be safe, we are prioritizing code side fixes right now over data fixes. Quest and balance issues are usually data, and those will start rolling in a large way with the January updates.”[/spoiler]

Last week, Joshua Sawyer “Ex-Bethesda developer who worked on Fallout: New Vegas and a previous Elder Scrolls game” released a very controversial comment referring the problem to an engine-level issue. Sawyer’s explanation is built on the fact that the PS3 has a divided memory pool.

It is an engine-level issue with how the save game data is stored. We’re talking about how the engine fundamentally saves off and references data at run time. Restructuring how that works would require a large time commitment …

Hmm, obviously my next question will be how large we’re talking here, Ex. Bethesda employee? Bethesda’s, clearly been on the defensive side here, PR and marketing vise president Pete Hines denied the explanation through Twitter, offering the following tips to improve game performance:

- Turn off auto saves. This can cause temporary stuttering since the PS3 saves these files in the background. This is most noticeable with large saves when fast traveling to a new area or entering a new area that auto saves.

- Clear space on your hard drive. Skyrim makes heavy use of the hard drive, and freeing up space on here seems to help many people. Hard drive speeds also differ in PS3 models. Some users have reported increase performance by upgrading their drives.

– Waiting for time to pass. Many things are running in the world depending on what quests you’ve done or places you have visited. Using Wait or Rest options, passing time will clear up some of these. It depends how long you wait, it may take up to 30 days for some items. Saving, resetting, and loading after this will have the largest effect.

Really Pete? Waiting for time to pass? I am suppose to spend my precious gaming time in Skyrim resting? Well, Bethesda issued a NEW statement yesterday saying that they are already reaching out to a number of PS3 owners whom still have been experiencing issues in terms of the large save file and the lag. Here is the full statement:

While the 1.2 update fixed the long-term play issues for most PS3 users, we are aware that is not the case for some. We’ve been reaching out to a number of those users to collect save games, so we can take a look at their specific issues. Right now we know it’s not one thing, but a combination of smaller ones that some folks are seeing, but others are not. Some seem to be the PS3 autosaving in the background (you can turn that off), some may be SPU AI updates, and some may relate to dynamic system memory allocation.

“These fixes are not in the current 1.3 update that is in final testing, but will be in future ones. We understand how frustrating it can be when your game is having issues, and we thank all of you for your continued feedback and patience. Rest assured we take your gameplay experience seriously and will continue working on this until it’s resolved.

So .. the new patch will not address the current problems with the game? Yeah, that’s an arrow to the knee alright! My concerns are clearly that developers are not making enough effort to test their games before release. In some cases, the release date set by publishers are the main concern. Hey, they might be making some progress here. at least they’ve acknowledged the issue and seem to be committed to resolve it. That’s an improvement I guess, but when I pay almost $100 for some good time (I know that didn’t sound right), I expect quality product people.

Watch out for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim review by Pedro, who is working hard on giving you an insight on one of the most promising nominees for the game of the year award.


Written by: Cheeto - News Contributor


  1. #1 by Pedro on December 7th, 2011 [ 39949 Points ]

    I’ve been following all this for a while now and I agree to some points and disagree to others. First of all, ANY problem is completely unacceptable, specially one as bad as the frame-rate issues. Bethesda saying that “you could upgrade your HDD” or perhaps “waiting up to 30 days to clear stuff” it’s simply infuriating, that’s not how you handle things.

    I understand the game is broken, but I will play the game with what I have the way I want. With that said, I must also say I haven’t ran into anything like the videos I’ve seen, my save file is 11MB and I have played for over 90 hours, compared to some this is a very small save file. I’ve started to notice some lag and stutter at times, but they’re occasional.

    A FREE BIT OF ADVICE: there are some things that you CAN do that will not alter your experience at all and GREATLY IMPROVE the frame rate issues.

    1 – turn off auto save: Bethesda said it, everyone said it, I can confirm it. This doesn’t influence loading times only, everything related to frame rate is greatly improved by this. Also, this helps because it doesn’t inflate your save as much.

    2 – STAY AWAY FROM THE CIVIL WAR QUESTLINE!! I can’t express how much this is crucial for your experience. When I was about 80 hours in, this was the only questline I hadn’t done yet and everything was running smoothly. After no more than 3 quests my game started to lag terribly, it was nearly unbearable. I could finish it (after resetting numerous times, one thing I had not done until then), afterwards I went back to a previous save and tried the opposite side, same results. Then I decided I would just ignore it, I loaded a save file exactly before I had stared the Civil War quests and then went ahead to complete THIRTEEN daedric quests, nothing happened the game still running fine with 95 hours of gameplay. I honestly believe that questline is broken for some reason, don’t go there and you’ll be happy.

    3 – clean up after you ravage a dungeon. This is extremely helpful when it comes to “decreasing” (actually not increasing as much) your save file. Simply collect everything enemies carry and if you don’t want it, just dump it INSIDE his body. All those items will eventually disappear with him. It’s crucial that everything (even equipped items) is removed (pressing square will do it) because it takes tons of geometry out of the world.

    I’ve played the whole game following this simple “rules” and it took me a loooong time to get to a point that it started to annoy me (95 hours), but at that point there was only one trophy I haven’t gotten yet, so I did A LOT.

    Please, do not think I’m OK with this, I’ve seen people complain and the videos, this is outrageous. I consider myself lucky, but that cannot be the whole story, so perhaps these tips can help someone else out there. I’ll discuss this topic in my review as well, which should finally be ready by the weekend.

  2. #2 by FrogmanTM on December 7th, 2011 [ 9833 Points ]

    How could a bug this problematic be missed during internal (or external for that matter) testing? It’s amazing how many times developers are caught off-guard when these issues come up, so I wonder how the testing was done in-house? I can’t imagine the PS3s used for testing were any different than one that anyone else has. Maybe an open beta could have caught this ahead of time? Anyway, I don’t have this game (yet), so I can’t speak to how it affects gameplay. At least they are willing to work on these issues, and thus I’m sure they will eventually come up with a solution.

  3. #3 by premiersoupir on December 7th, 2011 [ 17020 Points ]

    Odd. I’ve logged more than 40 hours on the PC, and I haven’t run into any such issues. I certainly don’t take any of the aforementioned precautions: auto-save is on, I don’t loot what I don’t want, I’ve completed the civil war quest, etc. I wonder why the engine functions poorly with one platform but works fine with another. Anyway, that sucks, guys — sorry! :(

  4. #4 by Pedro on December 7th, 2011 [ 39949 Points ]

    @frogmanTM I believe the game wasn’t extensively tested on PS3, since all the biggest problems are somewhat related to time played this could explain. This is why it’s completely unacceptable, how could they not test it to exhaustion on every system? Even worse, if they did, they certainly have released a “broken” game on purpose. Most gaming websites are speaking out, saying they did not receive early copies of the PS3 version (but received XBox and PC ones) which could indicate they were fully aware of the problem from the beginning. Some sites are also conducting “experiments” about the issue, such as IGN.

    @premiersoupir this are specifically PS3 problems. Some guy at Obsidian (Fallout New Vegas developer) said it had something to do with the system architecture. At least the slow down related problems. The other ones (backwards flying dragon, texture problems and such) should be scripting issues that could be fixed more easily.

  5. #5 by dragon290513 on December 7th, 2011 [ 7218 Points ]

    and bethesda just denied that dev’s claim

  6. #6 by Cheeto on December 8th, 2011 [ 29099 Points ]

    Also, Tosh suggested rebuilding your PS3 Database, which does make sense. Here is the link to our tips and tricks page:
    http://www.ps3blog.net/2011/01/28/tips-and-tricks-ps3-rebuild-database-faq-recovery-menu/

  7. #7 by Sakinah on December 8th, 2011 [ 26489 Points ]

    “My concerns are clearly that developers are not making enough effort to test their games before release”

    The 360 and PC versions don’t have the same issues do they? I haven’t been following this game much since I have no interest in it. I’m guessing this is just another example of PS3 owners having to deal with sloppy ports of multiplatform games.

  8. #8 by dragon290513 on December 8th, 2011 [ 7218 Points ]

    yeah they have issues but not this specific one, which is caused mostly by the limitation of RAM on the PS3

  9. #9 by Cheeto on December 9th, 2011 [ 29099 Points ]

    “I’m guessing this is just another example of PS3 owners having to deal with sloppy ports of multiplatform games.”

    This is precisely what I am aiming at. Yes its a PS3 only issue, but regardless of the what caused the problem, if they have taken enough time to test the game before release, we probably wouldn’t have to sit here and rumble on how one of the best games this year is actually broken. Sad


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